A few days ago, I wrote about sattelite temperature measurement:

Satellite temperature measurement makes immensely more sense – it has full coverage (except for the poles) and is not subject to local biases.  Can anyone name one single reason why the scientific community does not use the satellite temps as the standard EXCEPT that the "answer" (ie lower temperature increases) is not the one they want?  Consider the parallel example of measurement of arctic ice area.  My sense is that before satellites, we got some measurements of arctic ice extent from fixed observation stations and ship reports, but these were spotty and unreliable.  Now satellites make this measurement consistent and complete.  Would anyone argue to ignore the satellite data for spotty surface observations?  No, but this is exactly what the entire climate community seems to do for temperature.

Today in the Washington Post, Gavin Schmidt of NASA is pushing his GISS numbers that 2007 was really hot — a finding only his numbers support, since every other land and space-based temperature rollup for the earth shows lower numbers than his do.  As Tom Nelson points out, the Washington Post goes along with Schmidt in only using numbers from this one, flawed, surface temperature rollup and never mentions the much lower numbers coming from satellites.

But here is the real irony — does anyone else find it hilarious that #1 person trying to defend flawed surface measurement against satellite measurement is the head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA?

  • BillBodell

    I’ve been an AGW skeptic for quite a while now and have found your site to be the best to date. I like the fact that you’re not pushing alternate theories (anyone claiming to KNOW the actual cause of Global Warming is guilty of the same offense as AGW proponents). I also like your recommendations to visit sites like realclimate to get both sides.

    I think your focus on Climate Sensitivity and Positive Feedbacks is probably the best point to be made.

    However, in an attempt to remain skeptical (of both sides) and find the weaknesses in my own arguements before the other side does, I’ve been bothered by GISS temps. I know that GISS seems high and out of whack with other measurements. We were all skeptical of GISS temps since we didn’t know what adjustments Hansen was making to the data. But, it seems that Hansen finally made his code available in Ocyober 2007. I’ve seen an effort on climateaudit to review the code and I expected that a “smoking gun” would have been found. It seems that John V. demonstrated that 17 good rural stations matched the GISS results. I also have seen no evideence that a “smoking gun” was discovered. If the GISS temps were right, where’s the acknowledgement on CA and what explanations can be given for the GISS divergence from other sources? If the GISS code had problems, why can’t I find out what they were?

    I know this isn’t your effort, but I was hoping you could steer me in the right direction.


  • Bruce Hall

    Satellite temperature readings have had their own history of incongruities. Some good posts by Roger Pielke, Sr. on that subject at

    Roger has suggested that the heat changes in the ocean represent a better measure of planetary temperature changes than atmospheric readings that are subject to many variables, not the least of which is the temperature sensing equipment.

  • Al Fin

    Sure, Bill, keep believing it. ;-)

    Bruce is certainly right about the presence of error in every method of measurement. Still, based on Anthony Watts’ work, I suspect the surface station readings are seriously affected by urban development and station placement.

    As for Gavin Schmidt, he is only doing what he has to do to maintain his status and perks. NASA was almost destroyed under Al Gore’s tenure. The money wasted on the climate crusade takes away from NASA’s true mission–the space program.

  • litesong

    Hi Al….Nasa’s Hubble Telescope has studied galaxies 13 billion light-years(76,000 million million million miles) from us. Nasa spacecraft have studied Sol’s planets & moons out to 3 billion miles & another spacecraft is enroute to study the dwarf planet Pluto, 3.6 billion miles in distance. Nasa studies planets around other stars other than Sol. Nasa has studied the sun 92+ million miles away as well as asteroids, meteors, electro-magnetic fields, solar winds, radiations & lots of solar system flotsam & jetsam. Nasa studies Earth’s moon, a measly quarter million miles away. Nasa has continueing operations just a few hundred miles above our heads. Just because lots of people stand on the earth, Nasa shouldn’t study the Earth also? Or did you post just to slam Gore?